Who Owns 73% Of Our Debt?

24 Apr

Back on the 14th of March last year (“Who Owns Our Debt?“), we discovered that noted SMH economic commentator Ross Gittins was wrong. He had claimed –

You thought the pollies had done little else but spar about deficits and debt? Sorry, different debt. They’ve been arguing about the public debt – the amount the federal government owes (mainly to Australians).

At the time, a search through the RBA’s Statistics tables (“E3.xls”, Commonwealth Government Securities Classified By Holder) proved Gittins wrong.  We found that at September 2009, $65.972bn in Commonwealth debt was estimated to be held by non-residents. From a total of $104.228bn.  In percentage terms, an estimated 63.3% of public debt was actually held by non-residents of Australia.

Naturally we posed the question – Who exactly, are these ‘non-residents’ who hold 63.3% (or more?) of our public debt?

A little over a year later, we’ve had another look at those numbers (click to enlarge) –

Magenta - Total Public Debt. | Blue - Non-resident holders.

According to the updated RBA spreadsheet (“E3.xls”), at December 2010, $127.027bn in Commonwealth debt was estimated to be held by non-residents.  From a total of $174.794bn.

In other words, at December last year we owed $174.794bn.  And of that, $127bn – that is, 72.6% – was estimated to be owed to non-residents of Australia.

We ask again – Who exactly are the ‘non-residents’ who now own 72.6% (or more?) of our public debt?

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